University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Category: Archives

Stewart Culin in Cuba, 1901

Jose Almenares Arguello, El Caney, Cuba. Almenares claimed to be 112.  Penn Museum image no. 240597A

By: Alessandro Pezzati

In 1901, Stewart Culin, Curator of the General Ethnology Section (among his many titles) of the Penn Museum, traveled to Cuba to investigate the existence of an un-acculturated indigenous group in the mountains of eastern Cuba. Culin’s journey, which lasted a few weeks, took him to Havana and points in eastern Cuba, including El Caney, […]

In the Alaskan Wilderness, 1907

Mt. Denali from the North, Alaska, 1907.  From a sketch by G. B. Gordon from a point on the Kantishna just below the fork.  Charcoal drawing on board by M. Louise Baker, 1917.  Penn Museum image no 171578

By: Alessandro Pezzati

In 1907, George Byron Gordon (still as Curator of the General Ethnology Section; he would assume the Directorship of the Penn Museum in 1910) led a small ethnological reconnaissance to Alaska. He had been there in 1905, traveling along portions of the Yukon River. This time, accompanied by his brother, MacLaren Gordon, he traveled to […]



By: Eric Schnittke

Since the 1990s, the archives profession has used October as a rallying point for advocacy for the important work that archivists do. What was once a week honoring archives has now become a month and is now known as Archives Month (#ArchivesMonth). Whether assisting researchers, preserving documents, or relating a historical anecdote, archivists across the […]

Ur Project: August 2015

Sample note card from Legrain's research. The category for the figurine is in blue pencil at bottom.

By: Brad Hafford

Researcher Notes and Intern Work Spotlight on Legrain note cards (and the interns who helped with them) Including a special look at model brick(?) U.7587 (Museum Object Number: B17216) Near the end of the old Ur excavations, Father León Legrain (Penn Museum Babylonian Section Curator at the time) began writing two volumes for the Ur Excavation series. […]

Fanny’s Reincarnation

“Fanny, my dear, I must admit that your appearance is altered.”

By: Alyssa Velazquez

The work in the Penn Museum Archives never ends. The backlog resists attempts at taming it. The Archives is happy to have a number of interns and volunteers who are willing to help organize, catalog, and preserve the documents, drawings, and photographs in the collections. Alyssa Velazquez is one such intern, who is presently reorganizing […]

The Dying Art of the Letterhead


By: Alessandro Pezzati

The Penn Museum Archives has prepared a new public exhibition, of special interest to enthusiasts of graphic art and design. “To Whom It May Concern: Letterhead from the Penn Museum Archives” presents an array of letterhead from its collections, dating mostly from the 1890s through the 1940s, when letterhead design was particularly expressive and ornate, […]

Portraying Nippur: Artist Osman Hamdi Bey’s Early Relationship with the Penn Museum

"At the Mosque Door"

By: Hannah Effinger

The Penn Museum is perhaps best known for its impressively large and varied collection of artifacts spanning practically the entirety of human existence, but recently visitors were given a special chance to step into the Museum Archives to learn about some unexpected items housed in the Museum—two paintings and the unique ties they have to […]

The Spirit of Aloha and Meaningful Knowledge

alex nicole adria and ukelele

By: Kate Pourshariati

In which members of the Penn Hawai’i Club tour the archives, make plans for speaking in the fall for Second Sunday Culture Films, and later visit with Oceanian Section Keeper Adria Katz. In early June two students from the Penn Hawai’i Club visited with Adria Katz, Keeper of the Oceanian Collections, to view the Hawai’ian […]

Eskimo Soccer

Eskimo girl with soccer ball.  Point Barrow, Alaska.  Photograph by E. A. McIlhenny, 1897-1898.

By: Alessandro Pezzati

In conjunction with the 2015 Copa America, and especially the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the Penn Museum offers this photograph to the soccer world. Last year, I found this photo of soccer amongst the Eskimo of Point Barrow, Alaska, taken by ornithologist and Tabasco sauce heir, Edward Avery McIlhenny in 1897-1898. That photograph shows a […]

“Phony-British ‘Announcer Speak'” and the Penn Museum


By: Lee Roueche

“Phony-British ‘Announcer Speak’” You’ve definitely heard it before. The style, colloquially known as “announcer speak” but categorized as Mid-Atlantic English by linguists, is characteristic of a past era when radio was the dominate medium and newsreels played before films in theaters. Two recent articles posted to The Atlantic’s website asked readers about this “phony-British announcer speak” wondering “Who Was the Last American […]

Native American Voices at the Penn Museum

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